Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III ordered the immediate prosecution of a large-scale illegal recruiter who was snared by Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, in cooperation with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), during an entrapment operation this week in Quezon City.
“I commend the government operatives for their successful manhunt operation against this illegal recruiter who has been preying on hapless Filipino jobseekers. We have to get rid of these nefarious individuals, and we have to stop their operations. As I have emphatically stated in my assumption into office at DOLE, stamping out of illegal recruiters, illegal recruitment agencies, as well as those involved in human trafficking, will be one of my priority policies,” Secretary Bello said.
In his report to Secretary Bello, POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said the Anti-Transnational Crime Unit (ATCU) of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG ATCU) arrested Antonio Garate Toca Jr. for violation of Section 6 (Large Scale Illegal Recruitment) of Republic Act No. 8042 (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995), as amended by Republic Act No. 10022, and Swindling under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code.
Toca Jr., 49 years old, and a resident of No. 13 East Fairview, Quezon City was arrested through an entrapment operation conducted on July 25 at about 1:30 in the afternoon in a fast food chain in Quezon City.
Administrator Cacdac said the arrest resulted from the case build up/referral by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration-Anti-Illegal Recruitment Branch (POEA-AIRB).
“The complainants sought the assistance of the POEA in verifying information about the recruiter. Our initial investigation disclosed that respondent Toca Jr., promised complainants jobs in Canada under the “direct hire” scheme. Each of them was collected an amount ranging from P15,000.00 to P40,000.00 for the processing of their travel documents,” Cacdac said.
The recruiter, according further to Administrator Cacdac, is not licensed nor authorized to recruit workers for overseas employment. Verification also revealed that subject was a recruitment staff of OFW Recruitment Agency from March 1, 2013 to June 28, 2013. The license of said agency was cancelled on June 13, 2013 for recruitment violations.
“We have promptly advised the complainants on the proper way of applying for overseas employment and the courses of action they could take against their recruiter,” Cacdac said, adding that the complainants decided to file a case against their recruiter; hence, it was endorsed to ATCU-CIDG for an entrapment operation. Four complainants/victims were present during operation.
The arrested person was brought before Assistant State Prosecutor Amenda L. Leano-Garcia for inquest proceedings. The Prosecutor recommended the filing of criminal complaints for Large Scale Illegal Recruitment under Section 6, Republic Act No. 8042, as amended, a non-bailable offense, and Article 315 (Swindling) of the Revised Penal Code, docketed as NPS INQ-16G-00102. The respondent is temporarily detained at PNP-ATCU.
POEA Directors Robert Large and Rose Duquez directed the POEA’s role and actions relative to the successful operation.